Namah Chawla

Nestlé cautions against counterfeit Maggi

The company urges buyers to double-check the logo on the pack to ensure it's not fake Maggi.

Be it clothes, FMCG products or even medicines, counterfeiting, or making fake products and selling them as genuine ones, is reaching new highs in India. According to a recent report by New Delhi-based Authentication Solution Providers' Association (ASPA), counterfeiting has risen steadily over the last two years and the COVID pandemic has only acted as a cover for such activities.

Nestlé Maggi has just released an ad that attempts to educate the consumers about counterfeit products. At first glance, the narrative seems to focus on Maggi’s rival brands, with a similar yellow pack. However, the 34-second film, featuring popular actress Sakshi Tanwar as the protagonist, urges consumers to carefully check the pack for Maggi’s logo, and not just pick up any yellow coloured instant noodles pack. It looks like Nestlé India has taken a dig at products that are masquerading as its instant 2-minute noodles.

Nestlé has, time and again, reassured consumers about the quality and safety of its products. The official website states, “Our consumers can buy Maggi products manufactured according to our high quality standards and sold in authorised distribution channels. We take the counterfeiting issue seriously. This is an illegal activity to mislead consumers. When we are aware of the existence of counterfeit Nestlé products, we work closely with the competent national authorities to ensure their removal from the market.”

The ad is a move in this direction, and tries to educate the consumers about fake Maggi. It may also be noted that the ad clearly targets consumers of a certain demographic - the middle class Indian, maybe in a tier II city, who shops for groceries at the neighbourhood kirana store, as opposed to online.

According to Vani Gupta Dandia, founder, CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners (a marketing-driven management consultancy), the ad is simple, yet effective, with a clear intent. "It's a very common problem that all big brands face. It is, in fact, a badge of honour to have fakes flood those markets, where the consumers buy using visual imagery on the pack. The bigger the brand, the bigger the fake nuisance."

Vani Gupta Dandia
Vani Gupta Dandia

She adds that to tackle this problem, brands should ask the consumers to look out for, “Yeh wala chinh, Yeh wala rang, Yeh wala ISI mark, etc.”

Dandia advises consumers to spend a little more time on the exact marks, symbols, logos, and check whether they're buying the real thing or not. “I'd also amplify the negative consequences of buying fake. You don't want to land up in a hospital, or risk your life over a fake Maggi pack. Make sure that you serve your family the original/best.”

She shares that while at PepsiCo, she faced the same nuisance with Kurkure. So, they made films on similar lines to educate the consumers on the original (asli) Kurkure.

Sita Lakshmi Narayan Swamy, a brand and consumer expert, opines that counterfeit products usually target those who are not fluent in English. People who counterfeit make the product look very similar to the original brand by using the same colour, pattern scheme, and slightly altered typography or alphabets.

Sita Lakshmi Narayan Swamy
Sita Lakshmi Narayan Swamy

“Especially in the case of food products, the consumers need to be sure of what they are buying, as it has an impact on their health. Maggi is the 2-minute snack, which is available throughout the country, and Nestlé has a reputation to maintain. The fake product, if not recognised, can hamper the image of the original brand,” Swamy points out.

From the brand’s perspective, Swamy asserts, they not only lose out on sales, but counterfeit products can also hurt their reputation. “There is no easy solution to this problem. For a diverse country like India, brands can’t possibly specify names and instructions in all the languages spoken in the country," she signs off.

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